Two more Weinstein accusers go public with sex assault claims

Former actress Heather Kerr speaks at a press conference on October 20, 2017, as she alleges she was sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Two more Weinstein accusers go public with sex assault claims

LOS ANGELES: A former actress accused Harvey Weinstein of exposing his genitals and forcing himself on her as a separate alleged victim publicly repeated rape allegations against the movie mogul who reportedly plans to stay in rehab for another month.
Heather Kerr, who appeared on 1980s US sitcom “The Facts of Life,” claims Weinstein attacked her during a private meeting with the producer when she was an aspiring actress in her 20s.
“He asked me if I was good. I started to tell him about my training and my acting experience and he said, ‘No. I need to know if you’re good,’” Kerr, who is now 56 and lives in Washington state, told a news conference.
“He said that if he was going to introduce me around town to directors and producers, he needed to know if I was any good. He kept repeating that word.”
Kerr described 65-year-old Weinstein’s “sly, sleazy smile” as she offered to provide a reel of her acting work, recalling how she started to get a sick feeling in her stomach.
“The next thing I knew, he unzipped his fly and pulled out his penis,” she said, adding that Weinstein forced her hand onto his genitals.
“I was frozen with fear, trying to remain calm, trying not to freak out, because, after all, there was nobody else in the office,” she said during an emotional statement, consoled by her attorney Gloria Allred as she broke down.
Kerr described how she pulled her hand away “as casually as possible,” but said Weinstein told her that “this is how things work in Hollywood,” and that all actresses who’d made it did it this way.
The veteran producer, who resigned from the board of The Weinstein Company this week, having already been sacked as its co-chairman, has so far denied all allegations of forcing himself on his accusers.
An Italian model and actress who says Weinstein raped her after dragging her into the bathroom of her hotel suite in Beverly Hills in 2013 also spoke out about the attack Friday, through her lawyer Dave Ring.
The incident occurred at the Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel after she attended the 8th annual Los Angeles, Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest in February 2013, according to the attorney.
“He bullied his way into her room. She has told me that obviously her greatest regret is opening that door. She had no idea what was coming,” Ring told a news conference in downtown LA.
The actress, who is exercising her right to anonymity, first spoke of the attack to the LA Times on Thursday, saying Weinstein had turned up at her hotel “without warning.”
“Once inside, he asked me questions about myself, but soon became very aggressive and demanding and kept asking to see me naked,” the Times quoted her as saying.
“He grabbed me by the hair and forced me to do something I did not want to do. He then dragged me to the bathroom and forcibly raped me.”


Ring told reporters the incident “had a humongous, huge impact” on the mother-of-three, who is now 38.
“In a sense, she’s relieved to have come forward now, to be able to share what happened with the LAPD, but she’s also extremely scared, and rightfully so. She’s a mom. She has young children.”
He didn’t elaborate on the details given in the newspaper interview, however, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation.
Los Angeles police have confirmed they are looking into the case — the sixth rape allegation against Weinstein — adding to criminal investigations already underway in New York and London.
The latest case deepens the producer’s potential legal woes as it falls within the 10-year statute of limitations for the crime, while previous accusations have dated back to a decade or more ago.
Weinstein has become a Hollywood pariah since allegations about his sexual misconduct first emerged last week and he was kicked out of Hollywood’s motion picture academy.
The Television Academy’s governors voted late Thursday to begin “disciplinary proceedings” that could see Weinstein ousted from that organization as well, leaving him with no voting rights for either the Oscars or the Emmys, while the Producer’s Guild is considering following suit.
A representative for Weinstein told the celebrity news website TMZ that after completing a one-week program at rehab in Arizona, that the disgraced producer would “stay in Arizona for another month or so because he doesn’t want excessive distractions and wants to continue working with his doctors.”
Weinstein’s lead psychologist told the website with his permission that he had been “dealing with his anger, his attitude toward others, boundary work and the beginnings of work on empathy.”
Director Weinstein was “invested in the program,” the psychologist told TMZ.


Lawyers on wheels: ‘solidarity bus’ represents Kyrgyzstan’s landless women

A photo taken on May 7, 2015 shows World War Two veteran Sardar Akylbekov, 93, playing with his grandchildren in front of his house in the village of Tok-Bay, some 20km of Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Lawyers on wheels: ‘solidarity bus’ represents Kyrgyzstan’s landless women

  • At independence in 1991, when state property was privatised, every citizen was given an equal plot of land, but it was often registered under the name of the male household head

KARA-KULJA, Kyrgyzstan: In a cold, sparsely lit Soviet-era room, sitting close to the heater, Ainura Ibraimjanova taps at her computer. In this rural district in southern Kyrgyzstan, she is the only lawyer providing free legal aid.
Just back from court in the Alai district, Ibraimjanova is attending to a stream of clients in thick coats and clutching documents. They are in need of help with alimony, divorce or family land disputes.
“The laws have changed considerably since Kyrgyzstan gained its independence, because there was a real gap in legal frameworks and customs — with many people breaching laws in favor of customs,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Land, a scarce and highly-prized resource in this former communist country, is of huge social value, she said, with disputes over it particularly affecting women.
“Having or not having a piece of land decides who you are ... It’s a very important matter, especially in a rural area,” said Ibraimjanova.
At independence in 1991, when state property was privatised, every citizen was given an equal plot of land, but it was often registered under the name of the male household head.
That meant women often missed out on claiming land rights, especially if they got married or divorced, Ibraimjanova said.
“According to Kyrgyz tradition, people treat men and women in different ways. If a girl grows up and chooses to take her share of land with her and separate from her big family, this really looks strange in accordance with local tradition and the family is usually opposed to it,” she said. Although courts often rule in favor of women and in accordance with the law, executing such judgments can be arduous and take years, Ibraimjanova said.
“There are still many women who need to be supported and whose rights needs to be better protected.”
ON THE ROAD
Yet change is coming, even to remote regions like Alai — in part thanks to the “Bus of Solidarity.” The small van bounds along rural roads to bring lawyers, notaries and social workers to remote parts of the country to resolve villagers’ legal quandaries — for free.
It is supported by the justice ministry and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). On this day, it is headed for the craggy village of Kara-Kulja in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Among those waiting in the rain for the bus to arrive was Zoora Jumabaeva.
“I learned by chance that the bus was coming today,” Jumabaeva, a first-time user, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
She hoped the lawyers could resolve her complaint with the local bazaar after the new owner raised rents and forcibly removed her stall, which sells medicine for livestock, to a location outside the market.
Had the bus not come, Jumabaeva would have had to make an arduous two-hour journey on poor roads to the nearest town, Osh, to seek legal services.
In previous years, she would use informal mechanisms such as a council of elders to solve her disputes. But, she said, the fact that their decisions were not legally binding was frustrating.
And so, bearing the rain and cold, Jumabaeva huddled at a small desk inside a billowing blue tent to explain her dilemma.
“I’m losing my regular income and my family is suffering. I came here today to get some more legal advice on protecting my interests,” she told a lawyer.
“There are many other women and young families (at the market) who suffer more than me (from being evicted), as this was their only income source, so I’m trying to act on their behalf to solve a common problem.”
The lawyer, Jazgul Kolmatova, who practices in Osh, is no stranger to the Bus of Solidarity having made several journeys. Jumabaeva’s paperwork, she said, was scant.
“She came to us with quite a difficult and complex problem, but her case is a fairly common one,” Kolmatova told the Thomson Reuters Foundation as she took down notes.
Boarding the bus provides a chance to resolve knotty legal issues that have often been building for years, she said.
“I joined the bus of solidarity because I know that the rural population — and especially women — are very poorly educated in legal issues, and I want to make my contribution to changing this situation,” she said.

SOCIAL PRESSURE
Since the bus began running in 2016 it has visited about 193 villages and carried out more than 7,000 consultations, according to UNDP.
But meetings are often brief, and complex cases require follow-up.
With a luminous orange hijab wrapped around her hair and fighting back tears, Gulzina Ashimzhanova, 37, said she met Ibraimjanova when the Bus of Solidarity came to her village earlier this year.
Ashimzhanova and her five children were made homeless when she left her alcoholic husband, who she said was violent. Ashimzhanova wanted to divorce him and secure her share of the property.
“When we went to the village we saw the bus and met Ainura (Ibraimjanova). She told us about this free legal assistance, she explained everything,” she said.
“We were consulted from there, then she said to bring the documents and she could help me. She said we could divide the house and get alimony via the court.”
Ashimzhanova, who has been clinically depressed, tried to get her share of a house, 5,500 square meters of land and an apple orchard — all registered in her husband’s name.
“I need to get a house for my children,” Ashimzhanova said. “I don’t want my rights to be violated.”
For Ibraimjanova, the case — though legally clear-cut — carries a heavy social stigma, because Ashimzhanova left her husband and wants an equal share of their common property.
“Gulzina (Ashimzhanova) from my point of view is very brave to act like this, and I’m sure her example can inspire many others,” Ibraimjanova said.
“I told her if she does fight for her rights that could set a good example for other women in Kyrgyzstan too — there could be many others who are also shy, and this step of hers could give them a push.”